NBA AM: Who Is Next To Get Traded?
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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On Thursday we saw Rudy Gay, one of the big names rumored to be on the trading block for weeks now, finally get traded to the Toronto Raptors in a three-way deal that also involved the Detroit Pistons. With the NBA’s trade deadline just 20 days away activity is bound to continue as teams look to improve their roster, utilize cap space or improve their position with the cap. Here’s the latest on the names to keep an eye on.
Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers)
Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni’s decision to move Gasol to the second unit has not sat well with the Spaniard to say the least. While at times he’s tried to say the right things and push the focus towards the team, he’s offset that by reminding everyone how much he’d prefer to start despite the fact that the Lakers have better spacing with the first unit and more potency off their bench with him as a reserve. Most championship-caliber teams bring a player capable of starting off the bench, but Gasol is not fully embracing being that guy for the lottery-bound Lakers.
Combine his unhappiness with his career-worst numbers across the boards and the $38.2 million he’s owed over the next year two years and you have a situation where a breakup makes sense for both him and the Lakers. The challenge is finding a team willing to take on his contract while giving the Lakers enough to make them give up Gasol, who is still one of the most skilled big men in the game when on point. The Minnesota Timberwolves have long had interest in him and should be considered the frontrunners since they’re one of the few teams willing to take on his deal. However, they’ll need to find a third team to help them come up with a package enticing enough for the Lakers to accept since they don’t have the necessary pieces to do so themselves.
J.J. Redick (Orlando Magic)
Redick has far exceeded expectations this season, playing the best basketball of his career while ranking second on the Magic in points (15.4) and assists (4.4). He has really thrived under first-year head coach Jacque Vaughn, who has given him an expanded role now that the team is more perimeter-oriented with Dwight Howard long gone.
Redick is set to be a free agent this summer, which makes a trade seem almost inevitable. While the Magic couldn’t be happier with his development, the fact of the matter is they are a rebuilding team. Signing him to the lucrative contract he is going to demand this offseason goes against the San Antonio Spurs/Oklahoma City Thunder blueprint that they are following. As good as Redick has been, it makes more sense for the Magic to cash in on his high value now rather than using valuable cap space to keep him when they’re still one of the worst teams record-wise in the league right now. Look for the Celtics, along with contending teams in need of some more offensive firepower, to make strong offers for Redick as the deadline approaches.
Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks)
To their credit, both the Atlanta Hawks and Josh Smith have done their best to prevent his pending free agency from becoming a season-ruining saga like Dwight Howard’s or Carmelo Anthony’s in the past. However, the end result may be similar as it’s looking more likely than ever that Smith could be moved by the deadline.
The Hawks have the cap space cleared to offer him a max contract, but there has to be an internal debate over whether or not that’s the right move for them. Hawks general manager Danny Ferry came in and immediately moved Joe Johnson and his monster contract last summer because he wasn’t content with the team just being a perennial playoff contender. He wants to build something greater and having a max contract for Smith on the books could impede that.
Smith’s camp is reportedly looking to meet with Ferry soon and depending on how that meeting goes, we could see the market for Smith really start to heat up. HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy is reporting that the Phoenix Suns could lead the charge for him.
DeJuan Blair (San Antonio Spurs)
It’s no secret that the San Antonio Spurs are shopping Blair. He’s been on the market for months now, dating back to this past offseason, as he has lost his spot in the rotation in consecutive postseasons. The Spurs recent signing of Aron Baynes all but sealed his fate. Blair’s recent increase in minutes from 11 a game the first two months of the season to 17 in January had more to do with him getting showcased than back in Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s good graces.
The Spurs have been trying to exchange Blair for a first-round pick to no avail. Their asking price could go down, though, as the deadline approaches in order to put Blair in a situation where he can play more before he hits free agency.
Rodney Stuckey (Detroit Pistons)
With Jose Calderon now in town, the Pistons are expected to start shopping Stuckey heavily. Calderon is going to take away a lot of his minutes since his pass-first mentality will be a welcomed addition as it is a far contrast from Stuckey’s shoot-first mentality. Stuckey has known since the drafting of Brandon Knight that his days were numbered, but now with Calderon on board it’s just a matter of time before he’s playing elsewhere.
The Pistons are in a position where they can have over $30 million in cap space this offseason if they can move Stuckey, who has a reasonable player option worth $8.5 million for next season. Expect them to do so at all costs. At 17-29 they need a mass overhaul. Stuckey hasn’t played his best basketball this year, but there should be teams willing to buy low.
Other names worth keeping an eye on are Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics), Paul Millsap (Utah Jazz), Al Jefferson (Utah Jazz) and Marcin Gortat (Phoenix Suns). However, they currently seem more likely to stay put barring an irresistible offer coming along. They are not being shopped as heavily as the players listed above.
Bynum Getting Closer: Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum is inching closer to making his long-awaited debut this season. According to Marc Narducci of Philly.com Bynum recently traveled to New York on Thursday to receive two previously-scheduled Synvisc injections in both knees. Bynum is set to return to basketball activities next week and the team is hopeful that he can play shortly after the All-Star break. At 19-26 the 76ers are three games behind the eighth-seeded Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference.
Roy Pondering Retirement, Again: Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Brandon Roy suffered another setback with his troublesome knees this past weekend. As it occurred, he told Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com that he immediately thought of quitting.
Roy has since backed off of the stance, but has stated that this will be his final season if he cannot get his health on track.
If this is indeed Roy’s last season, he plans to go into coaching.
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